First strength training coach in the NBA reflects on career

CLEVELAND — Brian Akil Marshall’s resume is an extensive one filled with fitness and education.

“My proudest ones would be with the Cleveland Cavaliers being the first strength and fitness coach to the national basketball association being the first African American to have an exercise show on TV in America,” said Marshall.

Marshall fell in love with weights and taking care of his body at a young age. He then started learning more about fitness and strength training. He then started teaching others.

“I had an exercise class at the Scandinavian Health Club. I was also in the insurance business and I would work out there and I was used to working out,” said Marshall.

That’s where former NBA player and current radio analyst for the Cavs Jim Chones approached him.

“He said I had to come and see you. He said your name is at my dinner table, my wife is always mentioning your name at my dinner table all the time about this class. He said I had to come and see who you were,” said Marshall.

Chones started taking Akil’s class and soon offered him a gig of a lifetime, working for the Cavs as the first strength training coach in the NBA. For the next 4 years, Marshall worked with Cavs players on strength training.

“They didn’t work out with weights, then they didn’t really stretch. Basketball was a game where the person just would go out and play,” said Marshall.

After 4 years, Marshall left to start his fitness TV show along with his African dance company. Then he wrote more than a dozen children’s books.

“You know, I’ve been thrilled about my educational company of doing education for 30 years, locally and nationally to help young people to learn to what I call, “Winning in America,” said Marshall.

This is what he’s done for more than 70 years. He says as a Black man there were some bumps in the road.

“I saw racism in different areas. I’ve always reminded myself, it’s not going to affect me. I know who I am. I know what I want and I’m going to keep moving forward— period,” said Marshall.

He never let them get to him, reminding everyone you are worthy and can do anything.

“We know that there are those different aspects of racism and discrimination out there. But, what my philosophy is to get it aligned inside to become confident, have great self-esteem, know who you are, feel good about yourself, and you will be blessed,” said Marshall.

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By Betty C. Giordano

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